The Liverpool Institute High School's Artefacts

Jim Lycett, 2014

Jim Lycett writes (26-Sep-2011):

When the school was closed in 1985 by the Liverpool Council after two decades of contention, political dispute, and very little upkeep of the building fabric, it was under the control of the Liverpool Education Committee, under a trust agreement: called the Liverpool Institute Educational Foundation, set up by the Minister of Education on 20 August 1956. (Set up when Baz Edwards was really in charge.)

The following Charities were subsidiary Charities of the Foundation:

  1. The Liverpool Institute Scholarships and Prizes Fund
  2. The Holt Scholarships
  3. The Henry Tate Scholarships
  4. The Hugh Stowell Brown Scholarship
  5. The Edward Hughes Scholarship
  6. The Canning Prize
  7. The Matriculation Prize
  8. The Lord Derby's Prizes
  9. The William Durning Holt Prizes
  10. The Samuel Booth Prizes
  11. The Danson Bequest
  12. The William Cochran Foundation (Liverpool Branch)
  13. The Foundation called the Tate Exhibitions of the Liverpool Institute
  14. The Frank Stevens Millikin Prize
  15. The Sir Frederick M Radcliffe Prize
  16. The Damsell Prize


  • The Charity known as the Margaret Bryce Smith Scholarships comprised in an indenture dated 3 November 1924
  • The Charity known as the Agnes Lunt Prize Fund
  • The Charity known as the H Robertson Prizes Fund

In 1987 it was announced that the LI Trust (under control of Liverpool Council's Education Department) would grant use of the building and site to a new educational establishment - LIPA. The building was rebuilt (entirely in parts) behind its old facade and re-opened in 1996 under the name of its new occupants.

Meanwhile: Under a new Charities Act, passed by the Government in 1993, the Liverpool City Council Legal department advised the Education Committee on 4 April 1995: The Charity Commissioners for England and Wales ordered to have a new draft Scheme approved for the regulation of the existing 1956 Scheme above. This new scheme was objected to by Gabriel Muies "with a supporting petition - as the democratically elected parents' representative to act in the best interest of the school, and to ensure that the now ex pupils got the best possible benefits from the foundation schemes of 1905 and 1956." And so began a long wrangle by Gabriel Muies and nothing happening with the existing Institute's Trust funds lodged in the Bank. One of the proposed conditions of the new draft scheme was that "the proceeds of sale from all artefacts be joined with and administered under the revised charitable scheme" - when/if approved. The artefacts had been moved out of the old Institute building to allow the building works for LIPA to go ahead.

However in 1989 Gabriel Muies had been asking the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside - Walker Art Gallery - about the works of art that had been lent to them by former Liverpool Institute High School - to which they replied - having "been advised by our legal department" - refusing to show him a list "unless instructed to do so by the courts."

And then in 1991 (15 October 1991) the Education Committee authorised the Director of Education to dispose on the open market those items held in storage from Blackburne House and Liverpool Institute, which had no further educational use, - and he had then requested Cato Crane auctioneers to sell a large number of artefacts from the Institute and from Blackburne House - the auction of Institute and Blackburne House stuff took place as part of the 2nd day's items of a 2 day auction of Memorabilia on 25 June 1992. The auction was apparently well attended, including attended by Liverpool Institute ex pupils, masters, and directors.

Soon after the auction - 1 June 1992 questions were being asked again in the City Council:

"Having viewed the items up for auction from the Liverpool Boys and Girls Institutes this week (June 24/25, 1992) at Cato Crane, it would seem that many objects originally in situ at these schools are conspicuous by their absence. Would the chair please state:-

  1. Are the more valuable items from the schools still in the possession of the Authority?
  2. If so what plans are there for their future disposal?
  3. If they are to be sold, would the Chair please state how, when, and where, this is intended to take place?"

The more valuable items referred to would include those statues, paintings, books and furniture, and ship's bell not included in the above mentioned auction.

To which answers were given:

  1. Yes;
  2. The disposal of artefacts is being dealt with on a basis agreed with the Charity Commission;
  3. National Museums and galleries on Merseyside (Walker Art Gallery) have expressed an interest in purchasing a number of items mentioned and a price will be negotiated with them (based on expert valuations) so as to enable these items to remain in the City.

In an undated (assumed January 1993) Report to the "Working Group on Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts", on the subject "Liverpool Institute Sale of Artefacts" - the Deputy City Solicitor:

  1. Responded further to questions being asked, "and that the Deputy Solicitor to present a verbal report to the Education Committee (with the following resolution - that was agreed - to also submit a written report) detailing the following":-
    1. "A complete Inventory of those items from the Liverpool Institute Educational Foundation which are still in the possession of the Authority and which were not offered for sale at the recent auction at Cato Crane on 24/25 June 1992 (not including those items which were listed in the catalogue for sale but which were withdrawn at auction)";
    2. "The current valuation of those items from the Liverpool Educational Foundation which are still in the possession of the Authority and which were not offered for sale at the above mentioned auction";
    3. "Which of these items the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside are interested in purchasing";
    4. "Whether it is intended that any future sale of these said items will take place (on a basis agreed with the Charity Commission, of course) outside Liverpool, and if so, whether this will take place in London";
    5. and "items related to stocks and/or shares transferred from the Liverpool Institute Educational Foundation".
  2. to seek the Working Group's instructions in respect of the sale of various Liverpool Institute artefacts to Merseyside Museums and Galleries.

The Report had a Recommendation - Subject to the Approval of the Charity Commission

  • the offer of the National Museums and Galleries to purchase by private treaty those items shown in Appendix B at the prices stated, to be accepted and the Director of Education be authorised to dispose accordingly; and
  • that in the case of the sale of the Institute Pianos the Director of Education be authorised to accept the second highest bid in the event the highest bidder has withdrawn his original offer. (4 Institute pianos in a state of disrepair- highest bid £9,550 - withdrawn, 2nd bid £8,600 accepted)

Appendix A = Auction sale = 76 lots = total value realised £22,592.00 less commission, VAT, insurance, etc = £18,868.86

Appendix B = Proposal from Liverpool Museums and Galleries for sale to them of 14 items on loan = Total £71,700.00

Appendix C = 8 x Items not yet sold, + items unsold at auction and then sold to LIPA. - (no value stated in Appendix C but values included in Appendix A.) (items sold to LIPA = 8x minor sports trophies + a Mahogany Hall bench commemorating ER II Coronation).

And so the Inny's artefacts officially passed on for £90,068.86, with the proceeds of the various sales going to the LI Educational Foundation - except for the Demodocus Ship's Bell - which remained as one remaining artefact still under the LI Educational Foundation's control along with all the scholarship funds - all to be taken away from the control of Liverpool City Council in 2002 by the Charities Commission, and a new scheme set up with the assets and the same name.

But there were some items not listed - refer to Tiffen's History of the Institute - no mention of the two statues shown on the photo standing by the Iron Gates, and no Maecenas marble bust - to where and when did these go?

Jim Lycett (1941-2019)
(L.I. 1952 - 1957)

Bert Childs writes (28-Sep-2011)

Fascinating reading Jim. Two memories which may be of interest:

  1. In 1941 I was no.6 in the Margaret Bryce and was awarded the Sir Christopher Bushell Scholarship. There was only one scholar in the school at any one time and the previous winner, John Little ,who had also been Head Boy, had just gone on to Uni. (Strangely enough we had both come from the same primary school - Oakhill Rd/Broadgreen). I didn't see the SCB mentioned in your list & wondered what happened to it?
  2. Some years later, maybe the late 50's, I was invited to represent the Liobians on a commitee which Jack had formed to make a decision regarding the diposal of the 'Liverpool Institute 1914/1918 War Memorial Fund'. (Alan Durband was the secretary). I don't remember how much was in the fund, but Jack's instructions were clear, we had to get rid of it somehow. This we did by giving it to a tennis club in Allerton,somewhere near the Greenhills pub/Melbreck Rd area. I think we asked that they should put up a plaque to acknowlege the gift. Anyone ever play there?

Bert Childs (L.I. 1941 - 1949)